Delta Aims to Return 400 Pilots to Work by Summer

Published: 02-08-2021
Which pilots will be coming back to Delta in the post-COVID era?


2020 was a tough year for the aviation industry. Commercial passenger aircrafts were grounded, retired, or refigured to become cargo planes. Pilots were temporarily grounded, furloughed, or asked to retire, and many are still out of work right now.

2021 and the coming vaccines may turn around our fortunes as Delta pilots may be returning to work this summer. Let’s take a look at Delta’s new plans and explore the effects pilots may want to consider.

Delta Pilots to Resume Flying Summer 2021

At the start of the year, John Laughter, Delta Vice President, issued a memo announcing 400 pilots are scheduled to resume flying by this summer. The captains and co-pilots in question are will be given active flying status in order to restore them to full-time flying by 2022.

The 400 pilots will not be new hires, but will instead be those pilots that avoided furloughs last year. The Delta union had previously struck a deal to keep pilots flying by compromising on salary.

In a statement issued by Laughter, "As we looked at ways to better position ourselves to support the projected recovery, we saw an opportunity to build back additional pilot staffing in advance of summer 2022 by bringing 400 affected pilots back to active flying status by this summer".

The Vice President of Delta added “We're excited to be able to offer 400 full-time pilot positions now” and that Delta is “well ahead of when we originally estimated we would be able to convert pilots back to full flying status”.

Nevertheless, pilots are advised that “it's important to remember that the recovery road ahead of us will be long and choppy.”

What This Means For Pilots

There are quite a few changes pilots need to adapt to prior to once again flying a commercial airplane. To make the transition seamless, returning pilots are required to undergo additional training for the following:

  • CDC guidelines for aviation

  • Pilots taking over routes retired captains flew pre-2020

  • Getting acquainted with alternative aircrafts in response to previous airplane retirements

Since the retraining phase will take months to achieve, Delta is getting a jump start on the process. According to the January memo, training may start as early as March, or as late as April. The PSP, or Payroll Support Program, is expected to relaunch by this timeframe as well.

According to Laughter, “We're cautiously optimistic that demand will increase as vaccinations roll out across the world, and we look forward to restoring all affected pilots back to full flying status as the recovery continues”.

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